Laptop Buying Guide – Choosing One That's Right For Your Needs

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Given their portability, increased performance, and lower cost, laptops have become the computer of choice, gradually replacing desktop systems. Need a new laptop? Here are the key items and features to look for before you make your next purchase.

RAM / Memory
Every computer comes with a certain amount of physical memory (how much information and data it can store). Typically, laptops are limited compared to desks when it comes to the amount of memory they have. Determine the maximum memory the system can handle and if a memory upgrade can be completed by you or needs to be installed by a technician. 2GB is recommended for Windows Vista or Mac OS X while 512MB is suitable for all other Windows and Mac operating systems. Make sure to take into account the applications you plan on using the most – this will have an effect on how much RAM you'll need.

Size / Weight
While a light, ultra-portable laptop is ideal if you're on the move frequently, you may have to sacrifice certain things such as a disk drive (much like the Apple MacBook Air). On the contrary, you do not want the ultimate performance laptop if it's inconvenient or inconvenient to tote around.

Display Size
Unlike desktop screens, laptops have thin, liquid-crystal displays – or LCDs. These displays determine the brightness, color, and sharpness of the screen. Notebook LCD sizes range from 10 inches to 20 inches; 14 inch or larger is usually recommended for LCD screens. Compare different screen sizes at your local dealer and be aware that the size of the screen will directly effect the overall weight of the system.

Hard Drives
A hard drive allows you to save and store programs and files for as long as you want (or at least for the life of the drive). How much storage space you think you'll need will determine the amount of space you'll want to get. 60GB to 80GB is reliably standard on most budget laptops and should be plenty, unless you plan on storing lots of music files, movies, and digital photos. If that's the case, look into a system that offers much more space or research external hard drive alternatives.

Battery Life
What good is a portable laptop if you can only get one hour out of it on a single charge? Check out the manufacturer's listed battery life and look for laptops that offer media bays that can also serve as an extra battery slot. At the very least, you should be able to get 2 hours of battery life.

Check out Your Local Dealer
Do your homework! Check out local computer dealers and stores to research and handle different models in person. This is especially ideal if size and weight of the system is of the utmost importance to you.

Read Consumer Product Reviews
Consumer product reviews can offer a wealth of information regarding the laptops you are interested in. Users share the pros, cons, and other miscellaneous information regarding various systems, typically providing you with additional information to help you make the right purchase.

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Source by Kate Dalaskin

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